epsom-and-st-helier-flu-fightersAs winter approaches, staff at St Helier hospital are urging local people to protect themselves against flu, by making an appointment to have the vaccine.

For most people, flu is an unpleasant but not serious illness. However, for people considered ‘at risk’ – including pregnant women, over 65s and those with long term health conditions – the impact can be devastating.

Dr James Marsh, Joint Medical Director, said: “Each year, thousands of people across the UK get flu and, if you’ve ever had it, you’ll know it’s not nice.

“Having flu is not like having a cold and it can last for at least a week, if not more. And, it’s easily spread, with people easily passing it on to family, friends and work colleagues.”

Dr Ruth Charlton, Deputy Chief Executive and Joint Medical Director, added: “For people in ‘at risk’ groups, flu can be very serious.  That includes older people, those with weakened immune systems, and people with long-term medical conditions, like diabetes or heart disease.

“The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu is by having the flu vaccine. It’s quick, simple and it doesn’t hurt much. Having the jab is certainly more pleasant than having flu.”

The symptoms of flu:

  • Sudden fever – a temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or above
  • Dry, chesty cough
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Chills
  • Aching muscles
  • Limb or joint pain
  • Diarrhoea or upset stomach.

Symptoms will usually peak after two to three days and you should begin to feel much better within five to eight days. However, you may have a lingering cough and still feel very tired for a further two to three weeks. The flu vaccine only lasts for a year, so if you had a jab last year, you will need another one to stay flu safe. The jab doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu.

Simply contact your GP to arrange a convenient appointment and get your jab out of the way – it’s quick, simple and free for those in ‘at risk’ groups. You can find out more about the flu jab by visiting www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/flu-influenza-vaccine.aspx.